Thursday marked 2 years since I went gluten free so I have been reflecting on my second year on Planet Coeliac.
This year was definitely easier than its predecessor. Having already done gluten free Christmas, Easter, birthdays etc. once, I was much more confident approaching these events this year. I knew I could buy or make gluten free versions of most of my favourite treats and, for the most part, there were decent substitutes available for the others. That meant that I could fully enjoy each festival without worrying that I was going to spend the day with a salad whilst everyone else tucked into food I loved. Plus, the range of gluten free food available, particularly at Christmas,seemed even better in 2017 than in 2016.
My friends have made fewer mistakes with me this year than last. I don’t feel I’ve answered as many thoughtless questions or been on the receiving end of as many glib comments as I was last year. I still miss out on cakes and biscuits sometimes because work colleagues forget (but I never take in gluten-containing treats for them so I can’t really complain ?) but several do remember and I’ve been able to join in with everyone else. I think it’s a learning curve for those around us too and we have to accept that mistakes will be made along the way.
Since I was diagnosed, family and friends have gone out of their way to find tasty foods I could buy and to get me recipes for gluten free bakes. My mum remains my chef supreme and is helping me with my baking. We are now cake and pastry champions and have our eyes set on biscuits for 2018. I thought that going gluten free would destroy my interest in baking but, whilst it still feels like I’ve been knocked back in my ability to bake, it has actually made me more determined to bake more things. I don’t see why my taste buds should miss out just because my immune system thinks gluten is trying to kill me.
I have found social media to be hugely helpful again this year. Facebook allows me to connect with other Coeliacs in my area, asking and answering questions and letting each other know when a local store has a new product or there’s a bargain to be had. Twitter, though, has been by far the most useful platform for me in the last 12 months. The vast network of local, national and international coeliacs it connects me to is incredible. I get news articles, opinion pieces, blog posts, recipes, updates on which restaurants have just become/stopped being Coeliac-friendly… All provided by a community of fellow coeliacs, all looking out for one another. Being part of that network means, not only that I get these great updates, but also that I feel part of a supportive community who all understand what it’s like.
2017 saw me buy my first house and I am now the proud owner of an entirely gluten free kitchen. I can now use the toaster, dip crumb-covered knives back into the jam, put food down on worktops and chopping boards without a care in the world and grab flour and pasta from the cupboard without scrutinising the label first, just like I used to. Three years ago I didn’t even realise I was taking that freedom for granted, now I appreciate it every single day.
Eating out has become easier as I’ve learned which restaurants can/can’t cater for me and as my friends have become used to the control-freak I turn into when someone offers to ask about gluten free options for me. They don’t bother offering any more, they know I’d rather give the restaurant staff a proper grilling myself so I know the right questions have been asked! After all “Have you got anything gluten free?” “Yes” isn’t enough detail is it!
Holidays remain my biggest concern. I did have a problem-free stay in Florence this year (full story on a blog post coming soon) but I find it very difficult to book with confidence. I’m hoping that, as with so many things so far, this gets better with time and experience.
So, overall Year 2 was a good one here on Planet Coeliac. I’m hoping to post blog entries more often this year – fingers crossed I manage it!